Monthly Archives: December 2014

Rant: Facebookery “I Read It on the Internet, So It Must Be True.”

I’m baaaaaaaaack!!!

I have emerged from hibernation because, spoiler-alert, I’m infuriated again.

This…

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It’s been making the rounds of my newsfeed. Another precious reminder for people to do their research before funding the corporate bigwigs and campaigns and already-bursting-pockets when they think they are helping out Johnny-on-the-corner. Well, I agree with the sentiment. You should definitely understand how your money is spent when you consider any charitable donations. I would suggest doing your research.

Ahem. DO YOUR RESEARCH. if you did, you would find that this very popular picture, this picture that has been trolling around share sites and social media, this picture that uses quite specific figures to delineate charitable misconduct… IS COMPLETELY INACCURATE.

If you were to DO YOUR RESEARCH, you would find that sites like snopes.com and charitywatch.org completely discredit the purported information.

Ah, yes. And so we come to the crux of the problem: Time and time again, folks on the internet request that you “do your research” when faced with any question. Of course, that “research” is completely legitimate if you found it on the internet! Of course, if you go into your “research” with any preconceived opinions, you will, regardless, find completely unbiased resources. Of course, if you use your “research” to sway an opinion or provide proof for your unconventional stance, that “research” is obviously from a reliable, accurate source.

Except…

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Now, you might be shocked to find that irrefutable resources have to compete with far less reputable ones. Especially on the internet. Have you heard the saying…?

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Well. I’m hear to tell you: THAT IS WRONG.

Once upon a time, doing research required a visit to a library, exploration of scholarly journals, perusing of current encyclopedias. Now, if you read it on Wikipedia, or a blog, you can be guaranteed that information is up-to-date and accurate. NOT.

Yes, genuine scholarly research can lag behind more current resources. Even instant and recommended media generally has a bias, but if you tackle any issue with the knowledge that such biases occur, you can still approach a topic with a degree of surety, even on these internets.

This problem has been surfacing so often lately. Frankly, it’s contrary and unethical. People claiming that you need to “do your research” then provide links to various, unmonitored, disreputable articles, blog posts, and sales-garnering sites.

I see this most often in arguments that rise from differing opinions on parenting topics; breast-feeding vs. formula, co-sleeping vs. cry-it-out, etc. But, it most especially “scorches my agates” in the immunization debate. Time and time again, I see references to sites that claim dangers in the current recommended immunization schedule. Now, regardless of my opinion on this topic, I can provide data from my “RESEARCH.” I tend to use resources like: the Centers for Disease Control, a public, government entity. Or, the World Health Organization, a global, medical network. That’s not to mention the various physician associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics. Of course, if you do your “research” you may find a differing opinion on sites like www.naturalnews.com. So, let’s put our thinking caps on and decide which sources might be more likely to provide verifiable, well-regarded, accurate information. Hmm…. Any thoughts?

The problem with the “do your research” proposal? It’s being used to support cockamamie ideas and give credence to distorted fallacies. And, all-too-gullible audiences make assumptions that you have “done your research” and drawn appropriate conclusions. Of course, there is no immediate differentiating between the reliabilities of that research in the available scape of a newsfeed or forum.

In the immunization argument? We have created a debate where there is none. When did my fellow SAHMs become better-informed than the CDC, WHO, AMA, and numerous other well-established and well-regarded acronyms? When did we decide that we should make important decisions based on anecdotes and fear and mistrust of authority?

I recently followed an online forum that, honestly, scared me. Comments included such gems as:
“Unvaccinated children or people in general have better immune systems. Your body is intended to fight these illnesses off.”
“What’s the point of vaccinating if they still get the disease they prevent? Hmmm…”
“I disagree 100% with the herd immunity concept. Sorry, but it’s not totally scientific.”
“Don’t believe what big pharmaceutical tells you… big pharmaceutical shells out BILLIONS of dollars each year to autism case. If that isn’t admission I don’t know what is.”
“I want longitudinal research before I let my kid be the guinea pig.”
“If you think pharmaceutical companies do not miss lead people look up the Tuskegee trials.”

I’m going to assume my readers can see the errors inherent in these comments and not voice my individual concerns for each. This was a small sample of a far greater population; A mere peppering of ill-conceived, argumentative Facebookery.

This topic of immunizations is not a parenting issue, at least not solely. It is a matter of public health and safety. Time and time again, moms credit themselves will the ability to make informed decisions and, therefore, the right to choose against the medical establishment. Here in Michigan, this freedom has done a disservice to the public as lowering rates of immunization and increasing outbreaks of serious, transmittable diseases threaten the health of the elderly, the young, and the immuno-compromised. A recent mLive article confirms that vaccination-waivers are a credible threat to public health. And, a significant source of dismay for myself: that so many moms and dads are making questionable decisions based on unreliable information and flaunting their capacity to do so, over better-informed and more reliable, more sound outlets.

Ugh. I can only hope that science, and more significantly, critical-thinking will prevail.

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